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On the map Parque Natural Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara, y Alhama, there are several marked Restricted camping areas within the natural park, typically alongside a recreational area. They tend to be in relatively remote and high lying areas. I can find not much information about them in a web search. Some examples on my map include ZAC el Bacal, ZAC el Robledal, and ZAC la Fábrica de la Luz.

My impression is that those campgrounds are rather primitive and unstaffed, perhaps comparable to campgrounds in National Forests in the United States of America. For (western) Europe, this is quite unusual; most campgrounds in Europe are staffed and commercially operated.

On the web I have found a blog article of a group who have camped in El Robledal, which appears to suggest one needs to apply for a permit with the Consejería de Agricultura Pesca y Medio Ambiente 15 days in advance, but this is not an official source. Searching for El Bacal yields a form from a local authority, but it's not clear to me where it should be sent, nor does it include much information on the site. On openstreetmap it's not even marked as a campsite but as a park. I found a mention of camping at Área Recreativa el Alcázar on the Málaga tourism website, but no details on campground facilities, regulations, or reservations.

Where can I find more information or an overview of such campgrounds? For example, are they open year round or seasonally? What group sizes are allowed? What facilities are available and what do people need to bring themselves? Do I really need to apply three weeks in advance with a paper form (by mail? Email? Fax?) or is there a walk-in option as well (subject to availability), perhaps at a park office or with an on-site ranger?

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  • I see from that blog link that (i) it's not too remote to drive to El Robledal in normal cars, and (ii) there appear to be showers, probably cold ones. That doesn't necessarily mean there are toilets or drinking water of course, but it implies some likelihood. OTOH I've found the form for El Bacal, and the section Condiciones doesn't say anything about looking after facilities, just the site (I don't read more than the tiniest bit of Spanish, and the PDF is an image so I can't simply copy into Google).
    – Chris H
    Jan 25, 2022 at 15:45
  • ... Looking at El Bacal logged in to OSM as an editor, and comparing imagery, there appear to be a few permanent structures, a few metres in size. And this town blog(?) from 2013 for El Bacal says there are toilets and non-drinking water via Google Translate. Too old and uncertain to post as an answer
    – Chris H
    Jan 25, 2022 at 15:52
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    I agree that those campsites appear to be all accessible in regular cars; they're trailheads for several trains into the mountains. But it could be that those are rather group campsites booked collectively, such as by scouting camps or similar.
    – gerrit
    Jan 25, 2022 at 16:55
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    yes. I'd hoped to find enough to post an answer but when I couldn't, I thought I'd still share the little I had found. A fluent Spanish speaker could make more progress but still probably not find enough information online. I suspect an enquiry in Spanish to the local authority is the way to go.
    – Chris H
    Jan 25, 2022 at 21:39

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On 2022-03-05, we passed by the Zona de Acampada Controlada La Fábrica de La Luz, near Canillas de Albaida, Málaga, Spain. From the information panel, it would appear that the unstaffed campground is available for free without reservation, first come first serve:

Photo of Zona de Acampada

When we were there (on a fresh and humid weekday in late winter / early spring), there were no guests. There was a functioning water fountain and a not-very-clean squat toilet. There was no functioning shower.

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